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THE FURTHER PROGRESS OF THE WORK—THE MAKING OF THE PRIESTS' DRESSES.
THE GENERAL APPROVAL OF THE WORK BY MOSES. The entire work for the structure of the tabernacle being completed, it only remained for Bezaleel and Aholiab to take in band the priestly vestments, which had been prescribed with the greatest elaboration in Exodus 28:4-2.28.40. The present chapter is mainly occupied in relating how the vestments were made, and follows, very nearly, the order of the directions. Exodus 39:1-2.39.7 correspond to Exodus 28:5-2.28.14; Exodus 39:8-2.39.21 to Exodus 28:15-2.28.38; Exodus 39:22-2.39.26 to Exodus 28:31-2.28.34; Exodus 39:27-2.39.29 to Exodus 28:39, Exodus 28:40; and Exodus 39:30, Exodus 39:31 to Exodus 28:36, Exodus 28:37. The remainder of the chapter (Exodus 28:32-2.28.43) contains a recapitulation of the work done, and a statement that it was all submitted to Moses and approved by him,
Of the blue, and purple, and scarlet—i.e; of the blue, purple, and scarlet thread which had been spun by the women, and brought to Moses. See Exodus 35:25. The omission of "fine linen" seems to be accidental. Cloths of service. See the comment on Exodus 31:10.
They did beat the gold into thin plates and out it into wires. This mode of producing gold thread is remarkable, and had not been previously mentioned.
For a memorial. Compare Exodus 28:12.
On the probable stones intended, see the comment upon Exodus 28:17-2.28.20.
Two ouches of gold. Compare Exodus 28:13 and Exodus 28:25.
And twined linen. Rather "twined," i.e; twisted together. There was no direction to use "fine twined linen" in making the pomegranates. See Exodus 28:33.
Coats of fine linen of woven work for Aaron and for his sons. Compare Exo 27:1-21 :29 and 30.
A mitre … and goodly bonnets. The "mitre" for Aaron (Exodus 28:37-2.28.39), the "goodly bonnets," or rather "caps" for his sons (Exodus 28:40). The linen breeches, or "drawers," were for both (Exodus 28:42, Exodus 28:43).
A girdle of fine twined linen, etc. In the directions of Exodus 28:39, this is called simply, "A girdle of needlework."
Exodus 39:30, Exodus 39:31
The plate of the holy crown. See Exodus 29:6, and compare Exodus 28:36. To fasten it on high. This was not mentioned in the directions, which only ordered that it should be placed in front (Exodus 28:37).
Everything was brought to Moses for his approval—not perhaps all things at once, but each as it was finished—and was judged by him "according to the pattern which he had seen upon the mount' (Exodus 25:40; Exodus 26:30, etc.). The order observed in the enumeration is nearly, but not quite, the order in which it has been stated that the various things were made. We must suppose that if Moses disapproved of anything, it was rejected; but no disapproval is mentioned. Moses did look upon all the work, and behold, they had done it as the Lord commanded. Accordingly Moses concluded all by "blessing" them; thereby signifying, not his own approval only, but the Divine approval, of their diligence and obedience.
A blessing upon obedience.
It is not every kind of obedience that brings down a blessing upon it. To deserve the Divine approval, and obtain the Divine benediction, obedience must be, as was that here recorded—
I. EXACT. "According to all that the Lord commanded, so the children of Israel made the work" (Exodus 39:42). "As the Lord had commanded, even so had they done it" (Exodus 39:43).
II. PROMPT. The work could not have commenced before the sixth or the seventh month, since Sinai was not reached till the third month (Exodus 19:1), and Moses passed in conference with God nearly three months. Yet the whole was finished before the year was out (see Exodus 40:1). Thus it appears that six months sufficed for the completion of everything.
III. INTELLIGENT. There was little misunderstanding—few, if any, mistakes. All comprehended the orders given to them, and each carried out his assigned portion. Unless this had been the case very generally, it is impossible that all would have been ready by the end of the year. The rapid completion of the work proves the intelligence of the workmen, Note what is said of their being "wise-hearted" (Exodus 36:1, Exodus 36:2, Exodus 36:8). Men, for the most part, think to obtain the supreme blessing of eternal life, though their obedience has been
1. Partial and inexact;
3. marred by misapprehension of the commands given them.
They do not seem to imagine that there will be any real inspection of their work, such as that which is here ascribed to Moses. "Moses did look upon all the work" (Exodus 39:43). Yet surely at the last day, man's work will be tested in some real, searching way. Whatever may be meant by the expression—"The fire shall try every man's work" (1 Corinthians 3:13), at any rate, some trial there will be. Faithful service to Christ will be rewarded by a blessing exceeding all that we can ask or think; but there will be minute inquiry, whether the service has been indeed faithful.
For further Homiletics on the subjects of this chapter, see those upon Exodus 28:1-2.28.43.
HOMILIES BY J. ORR
The garments of the priests.
See Homily on Exodus 28:1-2.28.43.—J.O.
HOMILIES BY J. URQUHART
The Clothes of Service;
the work perfected.
I. THE PRIESTS' GARMENTS.
1. Their splendour. They were fashioned of gold and jewels, and blue, and purple, and scarlet. God gives glory to his servants. He makes us kings and priests unto himself. The spiritual nobleness and beauty given now are but the earnest of the glory which will be hereafter.
2. Their purpose: they were clothes of service. The honour and comeliness which God bestows are for service to him in the midst of our brethren, not to minister to our own spiritual pride and unbrotherly judgment.
II. ALL THE WORK WAS DONE IN STRICT OBEDIENCE TO THE LORD'S COMMANDMENT, "As the Lord commanded Moses" (5, 7, 21, 26, 29, 31). "The children of Israel did according to all that the Lord commanded Moses, so did they" (32). "And Moses did look upon all the work; and behold, they had done it as the Lord had commanded, even so had they done it" (43).
1. There was no deficiency: no part of the work was slighted. We may not abate anything of all the Lord has commanded. The ordinances must be observed as they have been delivered to us. The cross which Jesus has called us to take up in his service must not be laid aside.
2. There was no excess. No room was given for the exercise of fancy, or taste, or judgment, as to what might better impress, or improve, the vulgar. There was only one solicitude—to do what the Lord had commanded. He alone is master here. We are merely servants. The things which God had not commanded were as carefully kept out of the worship as the things he had commanded were kept in it.
3. "And Moses blessed them." Serving God thus, the blessing of a greater than Moses will rest upon us. And there awaits us in the eternal light the "Well done! good and faithful servant!"—U.
HOMILIES BY D. YOUNG
Exodus 39:42, Exodus 39:43
The commanded work completed and commended.
I. THERE IS A PROFESSED COMPLETION. We know not exactly how long this work took to do. That it could not be done in a few days or even a few weeks is plain; but it is equally plain that however long the time was, the work was done with steadiness and devotion. There is no mention of any hitch or unseemly dispute; all seems to have gone on with holy industry and patience to the end. Looking, then, on this work, for which a special endowment of the Spirit's help was given, and which was completed, we are bound also to feel that the work for which God in Christ has given his Spirit to his Church in these latter days will also be accomplished. Hindered and fragmentary is the appearance that it now presents; but it is going on. The wonderful manifestations of Pentecost are the pledge of a work that some day will have finis written upon it. Amid all the uncertainties of prophecy; amid all the hapless guesses with respect to the time of events, one thing is clear, that the prophecies point to a consummation. There is a συντέλεια to the work of the Church even as to this typical work of Bezaleel and Aholiab.
II. THERE IS A RIGOROUS INSPECTION. Many human observers, we may be sure, had also inspected the work of Bezaleel and Aholiab; some to praise, some also to carp. But it is not those whom men commend who are really praiseworthy, nor those whom men censure who are censurable. Moses looks, and ever as he looks there is the remembrance of his solemn sojourn in the mount. He has in his instructed mind the standard of success and excellence. Let us also, as being invited to become temples of the living God—temple and sacrifice comprised in the varied faculties of one living organism—consider the rigorous demand which is made on us. These sacred articles, fashioned from perishable materials, and by human hands, were yet such that they could be stamped with Divine approval; and thus they are meant to direct us, that we may fashion all our life, in affections, in aims, and in service, according to the pattern given in the mount—that mount in Galilee, where Jesus talked with all who were willing to admit his authority.
III. THERE IS A HEARTY COMMENDATION. "Moses blessed them." There had been so much disobedience and pursuit of selfish aims before, that when an obedience comes like the one mentioned here, it is important to note the way in which God smiles upon it. For the blessing of Moses is as the smile of God. God is as quick to show approval of all compliance with his wishes as he is to frown upon all disregard of them; only, as men will have it, there is more occasion for the frowning than for the favour. This commendation is more fully expressed in Exodus 40:34, where the wrapping of the tabernacle with the glory-cloud signifies that what God did through Moses in the well-understood formula of blessing, he could also do himself by his own miraculous manifestations. The successful work here and the immediate recognition of it serve to show, in a more condemnatory aspect, the subsequent transgression of the people. In the making of the tabernacle-furniture, they had recognised the claims of God, and God had recognized their ability to meet his claims. He knew that they could not yet be obedient in all things; he only asked that they should be obedient as far as they were able to be obedient. They had shown their ability once; and it was their great blame that they did not show it again and again.—Y.
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Exell, Joseph S; Spence-Jones, Henry Donald Maurice. "Commentary on Exodus 39". The Pulpit Commentary. https://www.studylight.org/
the Second Week after Epiphany